Let me start by saying this: marketing is free, advertising comes with a cost, and publicity can or can not cost you. With that being said, many people think that paying for a service equals return, but that is not so. Take some time to look up book marketing costs, advertising costs, and publicity costs and you will see this is true.
Marketing tends to have a bigger reward than advertising when it comes to book sales, UNLESS you are already a big name. For those of us small or no-names, we should focus more on marketing and publicity. What is the difference? Think of it this way: marketing is an action and publicity is a noun.
When you market you are trying to sell something for gain. Example; you hand someone your book and say it is for sale. Example 2; you place your book with a snappy caption on your blog and a link to purchase it. This is active marketing.
Publicity is more of a thought being put into a buyers mind. example; leaving flyers on a bulletin board. Example 2; a magnet on your car door. Publicity can easily double as advertising, however if your friend tells another friend about your book because it is the most amazing thing she has ever read, then that is word-of-mouth advertising and that is the best kind of free.
What I want to discuss today is how the cost of marketing can quickly tally up. In the past two months I have spent nearly $100 in rack card sized flyers, and this month I purchased 250 more rack cards for an event I will be at at the end of the month. Total in two months for advertising: $200+ only on rack cards. I have also purchased business card sized magnets to market with as well as note cards. In total, nearly $250 in two months. The disclaimer: Handing out cards and magnets does not equal sales, it equals exposure. And, by the way, you have to actually do the work to get these marketing tools into peoples hands. These costs may or may not give you the monetary return you are looking for. What it does give you is product exposure. People will see your name, see the cover of your book and perhaps not think about it again until they just happen to come across it somewhere, and at that point they well think, “I have seen this before. I met that person. Okay, let’s see what this is about.” That’s not a definite reaction, but that is the idea, that they remember.
On June 30, 2012 I will participate in the RelyLocal-Victorville small business expo at The Mall of Victor Valley. I may or may not recover the cost of attending this event. If I was attending for the sole purpose of turning a profit I would not attend because the odds are against me. In fact, I would have to sell 30 books to break even. Is this possible? I would like to think so. However, the ultimate reason for joining in this event is two part: 1. It is in my community and 2. It is exposure. To buy a 6 foot booth at a local fair can cost in excess of $500, so my opinion is that this event is a reasonable price for exposure where I can meet people face to face at an institution where nearly 6,000+ plus people go on an average Saturday.
The point is to weigh out the cost and benefit of your marketing tactics. What seems good for you may not seem so for another person. I will not dish out $3,000 for a freeway sign that will only be up 30 days because people do not know me and may or may not think about that sign when they get home. However, if you are only looking for exposure and not gain then this may be of interest to you. In the same regards, meeting people in my community and being able to expose my book to the public with the opportunity to sell my product is worth an entire Saturday at the mall for a fee. At some point in time it will be necessary to purchase marketing material whether it be flyers, book markers or posters, and those will be given away for free. So realize that marketing does have a cost to an extent. And know what your goals are when going into an event: Are you there to make a profit? Are you there for exposure? Are you there for both? With that in mind, you will be able to weigh the cost and benefits.
One last quick word of advice. If you plan to share marketing costs with another author at public venues, find an author who is not in the same genre. You do not want to have to compete with your friend’s romance novel sitting at the same six foot table as your romance novel. Instead, find someone in a different genre. If you write romance then co-op with someone who writes sci-fi, horror, or non-fiction that way you are not in competition with the person sitting next to you. So if someone approaches him and says they do not like horror stories, then he can say, “Well maybe you’ll like my friend’s romance novel.” Ask that person to take some of your flyers to pass out to friends he may know who like your genre, while you pass out his in the same manner. It’s co-op exposure. Now go out and market.
Tania L Ramos
“Be Still,” published by Iuniverse